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Public School Principals Say Teach For America Has Positive Impact on Student Outcomes Public School Principals Say Teach For America Has Positive Impact on Student Outcomes

Nearly 9 in 10 in biannual national Principal Survey give corps members high marks, as 6,200 new teachers begin school year

NEW YORK, September 17, 2019—Nearly 9 in 10 principals who employ Teach For America corps members say those teachers have a positive impact on students’ academic growth, according to a new survey of public school principals.

The results, captured in a report and brief, are from Teach For America’s biannual National Principal Survey, in which independent research firm Westat surveyed public school principals who employed TFA teachers during the 2018-19 school year.

The report comes as 6,200 new educators, known as corps members, begin to lead classrooms this fall in more than 50 communities across the country. This year’s incoming TFA corps is also one of the most diverse, with 51% identifying as a person of color, over 40% coming from a low-income background, and 35% the first in their family to graduate from college.

According to the report, “Principals provide a unique and important perspective on teachers’ preparation, performance and overall contributions to the school in which they work.” The survey found that principals rated Teach For America corps members effective in the classroom and are valued members of their school communities. They also were satisfied with the training and support Teach For America provides its corps members.

One additional set of results was “particularly noteworthy,” according to the report: “Many principals expressed very favorable perceptions of TFA corps members when asked to make direct comparisons between corps members and other novice teachers about making impacts on students and other aspects of teaching.”

Principals were also “highly satisfied” with the TFA alumni teachers working in their schools. Nearly two-thirds of corps members stay in education after completing their teaching commitment, and research consistently finds teachers who began their career in education with TFA outperforming their peers.

“We’re encouraged to see strong, positive feedback from our principals. Principals in communities across the country hire TFA corps members and know first-hand the impact they have with their students and in the community—and consistently rate them highly and recommend hiring a TFA corps member,” said Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s chief operating and program officer.  

“The input school principals provide helps us improve our teacher training and support so that our educators are able to maximize their impact in the classroom,” said Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard. “We’re grateful to work hand in hand with them to achieve educational excellence and equity for all students across the country.”

According to the report, “TFA’s National Principal Survey serves as an additional source of evidence about the impact of TFA and provides another lens on the practices of its corps members and alumni.” Key findings of the survey include:


  • Principals agreed that corps members have a positive impact on students’ academic growth (89% agreed or strongly agreed) and personal growth (89% agreed or strongly agreed).

  • Almost all principals report that corps members take action to build relationships with others, improve their practice, and seek ways to make an impact at their school. Principals reported that corps members demonstrate actions such as continuously learning and improving their practice and impact (98%), building trusting relationships with their colleagues and administrators (98%), and building trusting relationships with students, parents, and community members (98%).

  • A majority of principals would hire or recommend hiring corps members in the future. 85% of principals would hire a corps member in the future; 87% of principals would recommend hiring a TFA corps member to a fellow school leader.

  • Principals are satisfied with TFA’s training and support. Among principals that were familiar with TFA’s training and support, 92% indicated that they were satisfied with the training and support provided by TFA to corps members.

  • Principal satisfaction with TFA alumni is very high. 94% of principals were satisfied with the capacity and contributions of TFA alumni in their schools.

Teach For America uses the survey to hear directly from partners about their experiences with TFA corps members and alumni, as principals provide a unique and important perspective on teachers’ preparation, performance, and overall contributions to their schools. The survey results inform Teach For America’s approaches to recruiting, training, and supporting corps members and alumni.

The survey was administered between March and June of this year and was sent to all 2,061 public school principals who employed TFA teachers in the 2018-2019 school year. Sixty-one percent of principals responded to the survey in 2019. Teach For America’s National Principal Survey is conducted on a biannual basis, with the previous survey administered in 2017.

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with urban and rural communities in more than 50 regions across the country to expand educational opportunity for children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today Teach For America is a force of nearly 60,000 alumni and corps members committed to profound systemic change. From classrooms to districts to state houses across America, they’re reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, to grow, to influence, and to lead. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Joseph Walsh